The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Siddhant Issar, UMass PhD 2021 graduate, currently an Assistant Professor of Political Theory at the University of Louisville, won the 2022 Leo Strauss Award for his dissertation on "Thinkins with Black Lives Matter: Towards a Critical Theory of Racial Capitalism." His research and teaching interests lie in modern and contemporary political theory, particularly Black, Indigenous, and anti-colonial thought, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the politics of race, class, and empire. In his scholarship, Issar delves into the entanglement between capitalist political economy and racial/colonial domination, as well as the theoretical insights that social movements generate against such interlinked domination. He is currently working on a book manuscript, titled Theorizing Racial Capitalism in the Era of Black Lives Matter. The citation from the Award Committee reads: Siddhant Isser’s “Thinking with Black Lives Matter: Towards a Critical Theory of Racial Capitalism” is a superb argument for moving beyond analyses of contemporary oppression that think through only one critical lens (i.e. “anti-racist” or “anti-capitalist” or “anti-colonial”). Taking his starting point from the Black Lives Matter movement, which relies on an expansive understanding of racial capitalism (as necessarily entwined with settler colonialism), Isser shows the importance of a robust theory of racial capitalism for political theory by way of engagement with a wide range of thinkers (e.g. Marx, Cedric Robinson, David Harvey, Wendy Brown, Jodi Melamed). Isser’s dissertation shines especially in its incisive critique of major thinkers of neoliberalism for their failures to sufficiently analyze the importance of race, and its brilliant analysis of “racial/colonial primitive accumulation.” Isser’s dissertation is most important, though, because it gives political theorists something they really need: a theory of racial capitalism that they can use and put to work in analyzing contemporary oppression. (Political Science Now, 09/18/2022)

Recent graduate student Basileus Zeno from the Department of Political Science accepted a position as Sessional Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics at York University. He was also offered two post-docs in Canada: The Simons Foundation Canada Postdoctoral Fellow and the Arts Without Borders Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Ottawa; which he turned down in favor of the position at York. On top of this professional achievement he has recently published two articles: “The Making of Sects: Boundary-Making and the Sectarianization of the Syrian Uprising, 2011-2013,” Nations and Nationalism. 28(3),1040-1060 (open access) and “Education and Alienation: The Case of Displaced Syrians,” Digest of Middle East Studies, 30(4), 284-294. He also contributed to a report on the Boston Asylum Office for the ACLU of Maine, which has gained support of Congress members in New England who have called for a federal investigation into the Boston Asylum Office. You can send your congratulations to Basileus at WAY TO GO BASILEUS!!! (York University, 09/2022)

Dr. Leah Wing has been elected as President of the Board of Directors of the International Council for Online Dispute Resolution (ICODR).

ICODR is an international nonprofit and membership organization that facilitates the development and promotion of worldwide standards for all forms of technology-assisted dispute resolution, including diagnosis, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and courts. ICODR’s open standards offer the potential to lower cost, stimulate innovation, protect consumers and citizens, and protect the right of free access to justice.

Political Science major Nicholas McCurrach is one of the 100 Inaugural Voyager Scholarship winners. This scholarship gives college students seeking careers in public service with financial aid to alleviate the burden of college debt, meaningful travel experiences to expand their horizons, and a network of mentors and leaders to support their aspirations. (, 9/16/2022)


Professor of Political Science and Director of the UMass Poll, Tatishe Nteta is quoted in an article on Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin winning the Democratic primary and the likelihood that he will go on to win an unprecedented eighth term in office. “It's a really difficult set of obstacles to try and unseat an incumbent who most people would say has done a relatively good job in the position,” Nteta says. (WBUR, 9/6/22)

Professor of Political Science and Director of the UMass Poll, Tatishe Nteta, spoke on the Talking Politics television program about results from last week’s primary elections and the prospects for general election. Nteta said the primary election marked the ascendancy of Maura Healey as leader of the democratic party in Massachusetts. (GBH News, 9/9/22)

Assistant Professor of Political Science Paul Musgrave writes that the recent death of former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev feels like it’s part of an alternative history fiction. “Could Gorbachev, who had been one of the most powerful men in the world, really have died in circumstances approaching obscurity while Russia wages a war of conquest against Ukraine?,” Musgrave writes. (The Washington Post, 9/2/22)

Results from a UMass Amherst/WCVB Poll released yesterday show that attorney general Maura Healey has all but locked up the Democratic party’s nomination for governor heading into the Sept. 6 primary elections, but there remains uncertainty about the party’s down-ballot races for attorney general, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and auditor. “Primary elections are difficult for voters to understand, because without the cue of party affiliation it is much harder to differentiate between candidates, especially when these candidates are not well-known figures,” says Jesse Rhodes, associate director of the poll and a professor of political science. “It looks as if each of these races will come down to the wire, with the candidate who is best able to mobilize the state’s undecided voters likely emerging victorious next Tuesday,” says Tatishe Nteta, director of the poll and a professor of political science. (WCVB [Boston], WGBH [Boston], Boston Herald, WHDH [Boston], Daily Hampshire Gazette, 9/1/22; News Office release)

“Despite the millions of dollars being spent in the lieutenant governor’s race, many voters are scratching their heads about how to vote,” says UMass-Amherst political science professor Raymond La Raja. “That’s not surprising. Many people don’t really know what the lieutenant governor does, even if it is a partnership with the next governor and a stepping stone to the state’s top office.”  (MassLive, 9/3/22)